Pak govt. passes ordinance to disbar public servants seeking plea bargain

Islamabad [Pakistan], Jan. 8 : Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain has passed an ordinance to disbar public servants seeking benefit under the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) plea bargain and voluntary return laws.

The ordinance will be enforced from today Sunday and presented to the Senate and Parliament for their review on Monday.

"The Supreme Court had asked the government for its stance on the plea bargain law. We had to draw the line somewhere," the Dawn quoted Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as saying while speaking during the government's press conference to announce the ordinance on Saturday.

"We were being criticised for not disqualifying public office holders and government servants from office if they opted for plea bargain," Law Minister Zahid Hamid added.

Explaining the new law, Hamid said, "Voluntary return and plea bargain provisions have now both been merged." "In both cases, an individual who wants to return the amounts embezzled will require court approval and will be deemed to be convicted; if he is a holder of public office, he will be dismissed and disqualified from holding that public office for life," he said adding that the same would apply to government servants.

Dar added: "The law cannot apply to past cases. It is applicable either effective immediately or on future cases." The finance minister noted that there had been considerable criticism from civil society, the political opposition and judiciary on Section 25-A of the NAB Ordinance, which allowed corrupt individuals to return to their posts after making a plea bargain with NAB.

Source: ANI